■ Dr Ogunbawo lectures teachers and parents on how to handle pupils with learning difficulties
By Gabriel Dike
One of the nation’s foremost experts in special education needs and the new School Development Manager, Lekki British School, Lagos, Dr. Dolapo Ogunbawo, has provided answers to schools and parents on how to tackle the problem of pupils that requires special education.
Dr. Ogunbawo, who shared her experience on how she came about her passion for special education needs: “I grew up finding education a bit difficult. Struggling through my education as a child is not what I wish for others to go through.”
Ogunbawo who has a solid and enviable track record in teaching and learning, got her PhD in 1988 but her work experience spanned the various levels of the education system including higher education, teacher training colleges, primary and secondary schools as well as Special Education and Disabilities (SEND).
The educationist who is taking over the running of Lekki British School also revealed that teachers don’t take care of pupils that require special needs and recalled her experience as a pupil and how her dad came to her rescue, noting that he taught her perseverance and diligent.
“My dad told me that if others studied for one hour, I would need five hours. Nobody, including my teachers, knew what I required was special education needs. There are many children who are suffering because they have learning difficulties. I believe that there is no child that is un-trainable. All that children with learning difficulties require is experts on special education needs, to handle them. Our government must pay attention to this area of education,” Dr. Ogunbawo noted.
She explained that children with special education needs or schools that have such kids require additional resources as it is done abroad noting that, “every year, government in UK make available funds to take care of pupils with special needs. I have not seen that in Nigeria.”
The former Principal of several schools acknowledged the contributions of private schools but noted that while “Nigerians are willing to learn, this requires huge money to provide quality education for the people who cannot afford private education.”
On what she is bringing to bear on her new task, Dr. Ogunbawo who trained UK head teachers disclosed that she has two goals: to make Lekki British School number one in the country by introducing its 12-year-old students and above to A-Level exams and to establish a department for special education needs which she said would be the first of its kind in the education system of the country.
The educationist urged government at all levels to accord teacher needs top priority in order to get the best out from their performance in the classroom noting that in those days, under the missionaries, teachers were dedicated to the job and lamented that when government took over some schools, teacher training was relegated to the background.
The Founder of Lekki British Schools, Lagos, Ms Abiodun Laja, said that she was stepping aside because she was tired and needed some rest. She revealed that it has not been easy coordinating the pre-school, junior and senior high school. “I enjoined what I did in the last 15 years but it is stressful. It is been quite challenging running the school. I need to refresh myself abroad and come back later. The reason I quit is because I have found somebody experienced to run the school.”